Full Range of Our Services

For those looking for the ultimate guide for how to write an outline for a research paper, your search ends with us. In this guide, we introduce you to the basic components of a research paper outline. We guarantee that through our guide, you will vastly improve your research paper outline.

What is a Research Paper Outline?

It is impossible to write an outline for a research paper when one does not understand its essence. Basically, the outline offers an overview of the main issues that one wishes to address in their research paper. A well-written outline for a research paper makes it easier for readers to make sense of the paper. When writing your outline, give particular attention to the key themes that you discuss in your research paper.

The Components of a Research Essay Outline

The typical research paper outline consists of a number of vital components. We discuss these components below:


As the header indicates, the purpose of this component is to introduce readers to the purpose of your research. In the introduction section, give special attention to the purpose of the research and the main questions that you wish to explore through the research.


The background is another crucial aspect of a research paper outline. Here, you provide context for your research. The background section helps readers to understand why your research matters.

Literature Review

The literature review is one of the most important elements of the research paper outline. This section is concerned with establishing what is already known about the subject of your research. It enables you to identify gaps in the literature and show how your study will fill these gaps. Be sure to rely on credible and peer-reviewed sources.


Another vital component of the research paper outline, the methodology includes descriptions of the procedure undertaken as you conduct your research. In this section, you should also describe the participants as well as any instruments that you use. This section of the research paper outline allows you to demonstrate that your study can be replicated and that it is established on accepted research standards.

Analysis and Discussion

Having described the methodologies that you used, you proceed to the analysis and discussion sections of the research paper outline. This section provides you with an opportunity to analyze the data collected and relate your findings to the research questions that you set out to answer. It is arguably one of the most vital components of the outline.


In the conclusion section, you wrap up and reiterate the message that your research conveys. The conclusion is an important element of the outline as it helps you to draw connections between your research and practice. You can also use this section to call for further research.

The Functions of an Outline for Research Paper

Why should I familiarize myself with the outline for a research paper? Well, you need to understand the functions of the research paper outline if you are to succeed in designing one for your research paper. Listed below are some of these functions:

  1. The research paper outline helps to inject structure and flow into your research report

  2. Well-written outlines allow you to draw the attention of your target audience to the most important elements of your study

  3. The outline makes it possible for your readers to understand the relationship between the different components that you address

  4. Lastly, a research paper outline makes your work more appealing and readable.

    How to Write an Outline for Research Paper

    How to make an outline for a research paper is one of the questions that we receive regularly. If you are also struggling with creating an outline, we have developed simple yet very clear guidelines. These guidelines are reflected in the following examples of APA and MLA research paper outlines:

    APA and MLA formats for Research Paper Outline

    For a research paper formatted using APA, we advise that you use the following sample. Please take note of the heading levels and the specific elements that you should include in the APA research paper outline.

    Sample College Research Paper Outline

    Below is a research paper outline for a college assignment. For example, it is assumed that the research paper is about substance addiction. Note how the different sections follow naturally and seamlessly from one to the next. If you are required to use the MLA format, the outline will be largely the same as that of an APA-formatted research paper. The only changes that you need to make are in the heading levels.

    • Abstract
    • Introduction
      Research Questions
      Significance of Study
    • Background
      The State of Addiction in the US
      The Need for Research
    • Literature Review
      Roots of Addiction
      Impacts of Addiction
      Effective Interventions
      Theoretical Frameworks
      Research Gaps
    • Methodology
      Research Design
      Participants and Instruments
      Data Analysis
    • Findings
    • Analysis and Discussion
    • Conclusion
    • References
    • Appendices

      Best Practices for Writing Outline of a Research Paper

      When writing the outline for your research paper, there are some useful practices that you should have in mind. Below, we list some of the most important practices:

  5. Make sure that your outline reflects the specific requirements of your research paper

  6. All the components of your outline should be worded in ways that allow readers to know what these components address

  7. Use transition words to ensure that the different components flow smoothly

  8. Stay clear of overly-long or complex headings and subheadings

  9. Use as many headings as you need to bread your research paper down into easily manageable portions

  10. Follow the respective formatting guidelines depending on the formatting instructions accompanying your research paper

  11. Do not hesitate to adapt and edit standard research paper outlines to suit your needs. The research paper outlines that we have shared here are only intended to guide you

  12. After writing your outline, please proofread it. Any mistakes could distract from the rest of your paper

  13. Strive to stay informed about the latest changes and trends in research paper outlines. These outlines are not static; the requirements, styles, and standards change over time

  14. Do not forget to use your judgment when designing the outline for your research paper.

We can help with your Research Essay Outline

We truly hope that you have found our research essay outline to be informative and enlightening. If you need more help with writing an outline, we welcome you to engage us. Our team of experts is ready and enthusiastic to answer your questions and respond to any concerns that you may have. Call us today!

Leave comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *.